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Eu Environment Council

Volume 301: debated on Wednesday 19 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the conclusions of the Environment Council meeting of 16 October. [16322]

With Lord Sewel, I represented the United Kingdom at the Environment Council which took place in Luxembourg on 16 October.The Council reached political agreement on the proposal for a new Drinking Water Directive. This sets new standards in line with current scientific thinking for the quality of drinking water; these will provide additional protection for human health. The text also provides for much greater subsidiarity and flexibility for Member States. It will now go forward for the opinion of the European Parliament. The Council further developed the Community's negotiating position for the Third Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Kyoto, Japan, in December this year.In the debate on the landfill directive, I indicated our strong support for the tight regulation of all landfills but that greater flexibility was needed on the requirements for biodegradable waste going to landfill. In the discussion of the Strategy prepared by the Commission to reduce the problems of acid rain in the Community I made it clear that the UK strongly supported action on this, though more technical work was needed to clarify the benefits and costs—a view shared by the majority who spoke.The Council also noted the progress of discussions on the directive tightening emissions from light commercial vehicles and on the Water Framework Directive. The Commission made a presentation on its Communication on Environmental Taxes and Charges which was not discussed.